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August 22, 2014, 1:52 am

Proposed hotel tax -- a smart investment

Would you consider an investment in which for every $1 spent there is a $100 return?

Such an investment deal is now before Philadelphia City Council.

Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown wants to increase the hotel tax by 0.3 percent and send the extra money to the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation.

“The tourism industry in this town is superb in that it equals 52,000 jobs in Philadelphia and 88,000 for the region,” said Reynolds Brown. “Further, when our city agencies like GPTMC spend $1 on marketing, it equals $100 spent by visitors.

Reynolds Brown said the increase would add less than $1 to a typical hotel room bill and would help make up for lost state funding.

State funding has dropped down to $180,000. If council enacts the hotel tax, the increase could generate about $2 million a year. The revenue would be evenly split between the GPTMC and the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau.

A plan that results in such a tremendous return on its investment and that so positively impacts on job creation in the region is a smart investment that deserves of city council’s support.

A city council committee has approved the plan and a final vote is expected soon.

You would expect those in the business community, especially the hospitality industry, to be all supportive of the plan.

But hotel managers and owners in Philadelphia are now opposing the plan after initially expressing support for it.

Jim Gratton, chairman of the Greater Philadelphia Hotel Association, told a city council committee his group now opposes the measure because hoteliers were refused stronger representation on the board of GPTMC.

Gratton said until the representation issue is resolved the association is withdrawing its support of the bill.

The association should be reminded that GPTMC is a private, non-profit organization that promotes and represents not only the hoteliers but the entire tourism and hospitality industry in the city and the five county region (Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties).

In 1997, GPTMC launched its first consumer campaign inviting people to visit the five-county region.

GPTMC under the leadership of its president and CEO, Meryl Levitz, says it is responsible for expanding Philadelphia regional tourism worth $8.7 billion in economic impact and accounting for more than 85,000 regional jobs annually. In 2010, the region welcomed 37.4 million domestic visitors, 33.1 million of whom were leisure visitors. The region now welcomes 10 million more leisure travelers than in 1997, when GPTMC first started marketing.

Short-sighted squabbles should not delay city council from approving a modest hotel tax increase that could help promote leisure travel to the Greater Philadelphia area which could lead to more hospitality revenue and jobs for the region.